By Rich Pollack
Marshall Labadie has his work cut out for him.
A long to-do list had been in the works for months before Highland Beach’s new town manager stepped into his office Oct. 1.
By the time he arrived, the tasks commissioners dropped on his lap became almost too numerous to count.
“He’s got a list a mile long, poor guy,” Commissioner Rhoda Zelniker said.
Even before he left Michigan, where he served as development services director for the township of West Bloomfield, Labadie was getting updates on projects in the works and memos about issues he now hopes to resolve.
Among the priorities for Labadie will be filling department head positions following the departures of Finance Director Cale Curtis in August and Public Works Director Ed Soper in September. Labadie will also look for a chief building official to create and manage an in-house building department.
In June, SAFEbuilt, the Colorado-based firm that provided building inspection services to the town for several years, gave notice that it would end its contract in September.
Unable to hire a qualified building official before SAFEbuilt left, the town last month entered into a one-year agreement for building inspection services with a second company, Cap Government Services. It is providing a chief building official as well as inspection and plan review services.
Under the agreement, the town is paying $90 an hour up to $25,000 for a building official and $75 an hour for an inspector and $80 an hour for an examiner.
“The new town manager will be the interface with Cap Services,” Commissioner Elyse Riesa said.
The town also has a temporary agreement with Government Services Group of Longwood, which has provided an interim senior financial analyst since early August. The analyst, who had been working five days a week to help prepare the town’s budget, will now be working three days a week.
The contract calls for the analyst to be paid $116 an hour plus the town’s covering lodging and travel. The town has been advertising for a building official for several months as well as for a finance director. Selected applications were forwarded to Labadie prior to his arrival.
The town is expected to begin advertising for a public works director, and in the interim senior managers within the department are responsible for day-to-day operations.
Labadie may also hire an assistant town manager/public information coordinator, a position identified in the budget.
During his first commission meeting, Labadie acknowledged there was a lot on his plate.
“We will get through the list,” he said.
Many issues have been waiting since May, when manager Valerie Oakes was fired. While interim manager William Thrasher led the town’s staff for 90 days until mid-September, commissioners ended up taking on a lot of administrative work that continued as Town Clerk Lanelda Gaskins filled in as the second interim manager.
“I’m hoping we don’t have to work so hard” now that Labadie is here, Zelniker said.